Education Politics and Policy

Phony PhD: 10 Things to Know about Senator Ogola’s Fake Certificate Scandal

For N13.5 million a month, you would expect Nigeria to be run by legislators of the highest moral, policy and educational standards. There are heads in the red chamber who are seasoned professionals in their fields of endeavour, but it appears millions of taxpayer funds also go to funding phonies who have obtained qualifications that are as bogus as their legislative performance have been.

A Leaks.NG report published on PREMIUM TIMES has now put a name and face to one of such lawmakers. Here are the highlights of the report and things to know about him:

Who is Senator Ogola?
Foster Ogola, a Senator Representing Bayelsa West Senatorial zone of Bayelsa state. He is a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

What is the Charge?
The Senator is alleged to have obtained a PhD in Christian Leadership from GMF Christian University Lagos, in 2012.

What does NUC say?
“We have never heard of that name” said NUC’s Director of Corporate Communications, Ibrahim Yakasai, according to PREMIUM TIMES. The University is not even listed on NUC’s list of illegal Universities, probably showing how far the school is from the NUC’s (and anybody’s) attention.

What does the School say for itself?
There is no information on said school; no Website to reference its existence. But TheCable traced Gospel Missionary Foundation (GMF) Theological University to 165 Isolo Road, Cele Bus stop, Egbe-Ikotun, Lagos, where it lies on the first floor of a two-storey building. There is one lecture room and three rooms believed to be offices.

So who owns the ‘University’?
GMF was founded by one Mr Daniel Obioha and runs it with his wife ‘Professor’ Hope Obioha as the registrar, according to TheCable. Ms Obioha showed TheCable’s investigator (who posed as an admission-seeking student) an accreditation certificate but all organisations on the paper have no online presence.

Did the school corroborate that Senator Ogola obtained his PhD with them?
The registrar did not even present a 2012 graduation list; only 2013 to 2016. Meanwhile, Christian Leadership was not on the list of courses the ‘university’ offered at PhD level.

What does the Senator say for himself?
“When did students or products of universities become accrediting bodies”, refusing to confirm or deny that the university was accredited or not while claiming that the anonymous confidential report made on Leaks.NG could be the work of “mischief makers with a potential to foment distraction from weighty matters of state”.

What other degrees does he claim to have?
On his profile page on the National Assembly’s website, an MSc Christian Leadership from Imo State University is listed as the first post-secondary degree the Senator acquired in 2008, followed by a Diploma in ‘Satellite Tech’ from the Unitar/Unosat Institute Geneva. He became a ‘fellow’ of the African Business School in Abuja also in 2008, before acquiring a BSc in Management from Nigerian College of Administration Lagos.

What is his role in the Senate?
Senator Ogola is listed on the NASS website as the Vice Chairman of the Committee on Information and Communication Technology (supposedly based on his Diploma in ‘Satellite Tech’). He is reported to have sponsored two bills, one of which was stood down.

Has he had a previous case of forgery?
In August 2015, the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, struck out a suit of certificate forgery against Senator Ogola by Eddy Julius of the All Progressive Congress (APC). Mr Ogola was declared winner of the Bayelsa West Senatorial District election on May 28, 2015.

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